Mosquito Bite Prevention: How to Protect Against Mosquitoes

Mosquito photo - Mosquitoes can carry dangerous diseases.

There are approximately 2,700 species of mosquitoes. Only female mosquitoes bite, because they need blood to reproduce. During the 3-4 week lifetime of a female mosquito, it can produce over 1,000 eggs—which may hatch within 48 hours or, in some species, survive subzero winters. 

Where do mosquitoes live?

Mosquitoes flourish in moist, relatively warm surroundings. They breed in damp soil and stagnant water, such as ditches and flood pools; however, gutters, discarded tires and other man-made containers make common breeding sites, as well.

What times of day are mosquitoes most active?

Many species of mosquitoes bite more in the early morning and at dusk, but some seek prey all night. Others prove more active during the day, especially in cloudy conditions and moist, shady spots sheltered from wind.

What attracts mosquitoes?

Most adult mosquitoes remain near their breeding area, but the females will travel to find blood meals. Exhaled carbon dioxide attracts the female mosquitoes, as do moisture, color and movement. According to experts, most biting mosquitoes opt to feed on horses, cattle, birds or small animals over people. When attracted to people, mosquitoes seem to prefer certain scents—which explains why one person can be more bothered than another. A common allergic reaction to mosquito saliva causes bites to itch and develop the distinctive red bump.

Can mosquitoes bite through clothing?

Some mosquitoes can bite through thin fabric. One of the best ways to help repel mosquitoes is to wear permethrin-treated mosquito repellent clothing and gear.

Can mosquitoes transmit diseases?

Mosquitoes aren’t just a nuisance. They’re dangerous.

Mosquitoes are notorious for transmitting diseases across the globe. Millions of people are infected by mosquito-borne illnesses every year and one million cases are fatal. These diseases include malaria, dengue, chikungunya, West Nile virus, yellow fever, and Zika virus. Mosquitoes pass on viral diseases through the saliva of infected females. Infected blood is not spread through mosquito bites so it is highly unlikely for mosquitoes to spread hepatitis or HIV.  

Malaria, which is transmitted to people by the bite of infected mosquitoes, is one of the world’s leading causes of death. Infected mosquitoes pass other life-threatening diseases to people, such as West Nile virus—now widespread in the United States. They also transmit diseases to animals, including heartworm disease (to dogs and others), equine encephalitis (horses) and West Nile virus (birds). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website provides information about how to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites. 

How to Repel Mosquitoes and Prevent Bites

While completely avoiding mosquito bites can be challenging, adopting certain precautions can significantly diminish the chances of getting bitten. If you find yourself in an environment where mosquitoes are prevalent, consider following these tips:

  1. Identify Peak Mosquito Times: Be aware of when mosquitoes are most active in your region, which is typically during dawn and dusk. Planning outdoor activities outside these peak times can help reduce the likelihood of encounters.
  1. Steer Clear of Mosquito Breeding Sites: Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, so avoid areas with standing water like ponds, marshes, and accumulated rainwater.
  1. Wear Insect Shield Repellent Clothing: Opt for mosquito-repellent clothing to help prevent mosquito bites. You can choose from a variety of items, including shirts, pants, scarves, and hats to stay covered and help provide a barrier against mosquitoes.
  1. Apply Permethrin to Clothing and Gear: Using a permethrin spray on your clothing and outdoor gear can add an extra layer of protection against mosquitoes.
  1. Utilize Insect Shield's Professional Treatment Service: Consider sending your clothes to Insect Shield for professional permethrin treatment. This service ensures a long-lasting repellent effect on your clothing, often more durable than DIY permethrin applications.
  1. Use Topical Repellents on Exposed Skin: For skin areas that remain exposed, apply a topical insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin. These ingredients are effective at keeping mosquitoes at bay.

By integrating these strategies, you can significantly reduce your chances of mosquito bites and enjoy your time outdoors with added peace of mind.

What should I do if I get bitten by a mosquito?

To alleviate the itchiness of a mosquito bite, you can use over-the-counter remedies like hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. It’s important not to scratch the bite, as this can lead to infection.

How can I reduce mosquitoes around my home?

  • Ensure that lawn and garden watering does not lead to standing water that lasts for several days.
  • Change the water in pet dishes at least every third day and in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week.
  • Regularly check for standing water in saucers under flowerpots, as well as on tarps covering boats and pools.
  • Check around faucets and air conditioning units for any leaks that might create puddles.
  • Be vigilant about seepage, which is the slow escape of liquids like water from cisterns and septic tanks, potentially creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
  • Stock ornamental pools with top-feeding minnows, commonly known as “mosquito fish,” which feed on mosquito larvae.
  • Consider treating ornamental pools with larvicides, including modern options like acoustic larvicide systems.

These measures can effectively reduce the mosquito population around your home, helping to maintain a more comfortable and safer environment.

Other Mosquito Resources